We've seen our healthy share of design conferences over the years, but a Better World by Design in Providence, Rhode Island, takes the cake for top-notch interdisciplinary social innovation. Begun just six short years ago as a collaboration between students of the Industrial Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design and engineering at Brown University, the conference has since grown into a three-day event boasting some serious firepower in their recently announced line-up for 2013 covering a multitude of disciplines.
This year's conference will take place from September 27–29 at locations on the campuses of both the Brown University and RISD, who will host some of the major movers and shakers in design, engineering, education and more to share their ideas, stories and plans for action under the event's theme of "Pause + Effect."
The theme for this year's conference is Pause + Effect. It is a decision to make reflection a part of your creative process. Not stagnation, but rather, a state of dynamic equilibrium. Our conference is an opportunity for attendees to pause—reflect, revise and redirect their perspectives—and effect change wherever they go from here.
We asked the a Better World content team to give us a sneak peak. Here are a few of our most anticipated speakers and workshops.
Speakers Former AIGA President Doug Powell and Lead Breaker Juliette LaMontagne
Speaker Spotlight on Juliette LaMontagne: Breaking New Ground
The Breaker model of teaching and learning takes its lead from designers and entrepreneurs because these methods and mindsets help young people create value for themselves, for organizations, and for the world. Each short-term project answers a different challenge, convenes a unique set of collaborators and industry professionals, and results in viable business solutions. LaMontagne will discuss Breaker's most recent challenge, The Future of Stuff - a collaboration with the d.school at Stanford that tested a hybrid (online/offline) version of Breaker's design-driven model.
Speaker Spotlight on Doug Powell: Social Design - Where Do We Go From Here?
How does a designer who has been self employed for his entire career enter a new chapter, with a new employer, in a new city? Moreover, where does his passion for design-driven social change fit into this new experience? Doug Powell will tell the story of his life and career transition and connect this all to the emerging practice of design-driven social change.
Workshop Spotlight: Illuminated Textiles
In this workshop current trends in electronic textiles being used today in both fashion as well as craft and technology will be discussed. Participants will learn the fundamentals of how they work and come up with creative solutions for how they might be used in every day life. Everyone will be receive a basic toolkit and will learn how to assemble a simple circuit, crafting their very own electronic textile to take home. Attendees will leave with the tools and resources to push forward and build upon your knowledge to make this initial circuit more complex.
Workshop Spotlight: Scratch & Sniff
Marc O'Brien and Ben Gaydos with Kawandeep Virdee will lead a two-part workshop called "Scratch & Sniff" that will address a specific challenge while bringing in concepts of the conference, "Pause + Effect."
"Scratch" - Look, listen, smell + think about surroundings in different ways in order to seek out overlooked design problems. Participants will "scratch" their physical spaces in and around Providence by focusing on senses that are often disregarded. Based on the Situationists' concept of the drift, we will embrace chance and let circumstance direct our perspective. We will build a database of experience, dialogue and observation to inform the design process.
"Sniff" - Starting with our sensorial explorations from our first workshop, we'll dig deeper to find solutions to proposed challenges. This workshop will be set in a fast-paced environment, encouraging participants to let go of judgement and embrace chance and randomness, working with a number of exercises in order to come up with unexpected solutions to the workshop's challenge. At the end of the two workshops, participants will have learned new approaches to observe and gather data in helping them solve design problems. Newcomers welcome!
The a Better World by Design Conference will be held in Providence, Rhode Island from September 27–29. Be sure to check out our review of 2012 and check out a full lineup and ticket info at their website.